MONROVIA, Monsterrado â€“ On Saturday, the government announced a new loan financing agreement with a private Burkina Faso construction company, EBOMAF, to construct several roads in the country.
The Executive Mansion said President George Weah had submitted the pre-financing loan agreement to the legislature for ratification. The loan is worth US$426 million and will be redeemable after 15 years with a five-year grace period and a 10-year interest only on payment.
According to the release, the loan, when ratified will be used for the construction of 256.2 kilometers of paved roads and bridges in Monrovia and major corridors of the interior of the country. They include an elevated road from Sinkor to Kesselly Boulevard, Zwedru to Greenville, Toeâ€™s Town to the Ivorian Border, and Tappita to Zwedru.
â€œGroup EBOMAF will begin pre-financing the road project within three months after the agreement is ratified,â€ the release also noted.
However, the announcement of the loan will be overshadowed by perceptions of impropriety, after it was revealed that EBOMAFâ€™s president and CEO, Mahamadou Bonkoungou, had loaned a private jet to Weah for his use in international travels.
The president had initially failed to disclose the source of the plane, leaving the public confused about how he had gained access to it. There were also concerns that Weah may have been provided the plane in exchange for some unknown concessions.
EBOMAFâ€™s president, Bonkoungou, recently confirmed to the West Africa Democracy Radio in Senegal that he offered his private jet to President George Weah to facilitate his foreign travels.
Bonkoungou told WADR in the interview that the plane was offered at no cost to Weah, as they both were friends. He also clarified his offer had no intention of gaining favor to win road construction contracts in Liberia.
â€œMr. Bonkoungou does not need planes to build road. Building roads is the main activity of the EBOMAF group and it has nothing to do with the friendship between Weah and us,â€ he noted.
The loan agreement appears similar to another one worth US$536 million and negotiated by the president to construct a coastal highway to southeast Liberia, although the EBOMAF loan has a much higher interest rate, at 6.5 percent compared with 1.46 percent.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah